The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Claire meets the love of her life when she is six years old. His name is Henry and at the time of their first meeting he is a grown man. Now, this isn’t as creepy as it sounds!

Well written love stories do exist!

4/5 stars.
Hardcover, 518 pages.
Read from July 11 to 13, 2016.

This is one of those books that kept popping up for me. It has been repeatedly added to some of the top to-read lists, like the “100 Books to Read Before you Die”, which I tend to check once an a while to see how many I’ve read. That was this motivating factor that made me pick up this novel. Though the list hasn’t always provided me with good reading, for example “On the Road“, this one turned out to be a real gem.  I also knew it was popular but had no idea what the plot was about, which is just how I like it.

Claire meets the love of her life when she is six years old. His name is Henry and at the time of their first meeting he is a grown man. Now, this isn’t as creepy as it sounds! Henry has the ability to travel through time, though he cannot control it. It often happens during times of stress and he does not know where he will end up, though usually on a different plane of his own history. Henry discovered he had this ability as a young boy and with his abilities was actually able to mentor his young self. However, this ability is far from a gift as it has often puts him in very dangerous situations.

When Henry time-travels, his clothes do not come with him and this is how he meets Claire. Claire who is sitting in her favourite spot in a pasture comes across Henry, naked. She provides him with clothes and the two of them begin to get to know each other, well, Claire gets to know Henry anyway, as Henry has already shared part of his life with Claire in his present. Claire becomes infatuated with Henry as she grows older and Henry does his best to keep the knowledge of the future from her. Claire worries about Henry and about what situations he will find himself in when he travels naked and alone. She does not know how long he will be gone for and if he will be okay.

As the two of them work to try and determine the cause of Henry’s genetic mutation for time travel, Henry learns something about his future that will shake the love that they share.

Now what was great about this novel is that the plot wasn’t overly romanticized. You know what I mean, the cheesiness that comes with sappy romance plots. I can honestly say, that I enjoyed every bit of this novel because of that. The author managed to pull off a well written love story that didn’t make me want to barf by the end! The author also did a magnificent job with the rotating time frames and narrators.  I never felt lost or confused so the author set out her chapters appropriately. Additionally the book deals with a science fiction topic, like time travel and makes it relatable and realistic. The author doesn’t glorify time travel, in fact she shows us the nitty grittiness of it and how much it devastates Claire and Henry. Time travel brings them together but it also tears them apart.

Overall this is one of the better novels I have read this last year. I would recommend this book to nearly everyone. I mean, unless you’re completely against romance stories. Or time travel. Then don’t. But it’s your loss!

 

Ruby’s Choice by D.F. Jones

2/5 stars.
ebook, 173 pages.
Read from April 06 to 18, 2016.

I would like to thank the Online Bookclub for providing me with a copy of this book for review. I selected this novel as I found the plot description to be very intriguing, however, the plot that I actually read left me disappointed. I was under the expectation that this book was going to be more about three friends who discovered some fascinating magical objects but instead I was left with a romance novel that required no magical interludes. However, this book still has many good qualities and would appeal to anyone interested in the romance genre.

As children, Ruby and her friends, find a cave with some interesting remains. Each of them pockets an item from the cave to keep. Set in Tennessee the late 1970s, Ruby is now a young adult with big dreams to run and manage the grocery store that she is working at. She has also long discovered that the item that she discovered in that cave with her friends as a child is no ordinary item, in fact, it allows her glimpses into the future through her dreams. During one vibrant dream, she sees a man whom she does not recognize but sees herself falling madly in love with him. As destiny would have it, the handsome stranger, Reed, comes in to the shop while she is working along with his equally handsome friend, Brent. She is deeply attracted to them both but she can’t shake the dream she had with Reed. She soon discovers that the two of them are notorious players who have created a game they call “Tap It”. Each of them will date the same woman and who ever she says she loves first is the winner in which they will then both cut ties with her. Disgusted, Ruby is determined to beat them at their own game and tries to play them both.  However she undermines her own feelings in the process as well as the power of the destiny that was predicted for her in her dreams.

While the writing wasn’t terrible, the story just wasn’t for me. And to be honest, the author could have completely cut the part out of the cave and the magical items and just focused on the romance between the characters because that was clearly the central story. If the book description and beginning plot had been described as such, then I likely wouldn’t feel so deceived right now.  Even Ruby’s friends felt like unnecessary characters, especially Jerry. His character literally adding nothing to this plot and no place in this book, though I’m sure he was thrown in so that it could tie in to the next book. I don’t like it when authors do that and an editor would have been able to spot that,  but that is one downsides of self published books. The characters, while described well were extremely stereotypical. Ruby was the “it” girl that had it all, beauty, brains and boldness. Nothing new.  Overall the magical sub plot felt unnecessary and randomly thrown in just so the author could create a magical series involving the friends.

Having said that, the author has a solid writing style and can most definitely tell a story. I was intrigued enough to finish the novel, even if some of the romance turned me off. While romance may not be a genre I enjoy reading, this book will be a winner for anyone who appreciates the genre.

 

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

3/5 stars.
ebook, 784 pages.
Read from February 04 to March 20, 2014.

After many recommendations and a book club read, I finally got around to finishing Outlander. Unfortunately to all the major fans out there, I can’t say I’m raving about this book. I wouldn’t say that I liked this book but I didn’t fully dislike it either, hence the neutral rating. There was so much about this book that didn’t make sense to me or that I could relate to. I remember as a teenager listening to my Mom talking so fondly about this book but when I asked to read it (at the ripe old age of sixteen) and she wouldn’t let me. She feared the content would be too graphic and that the I might be traumatized by the amount of sexual and abusive violence or something. Needless to say, I am glad that I didn’t read this book as a teenager or I may have been severely horrified. With that also being said, I may have also appreciated the romance a bit more with my naïve teenage brain.

The premise of the story focuses on Claire, a nurse living in the 20th century who is separated from her husband and everything she knows and is somehow (and this was never fully described or given reason for in the book) magically transported to 17th century Scotland. You would think that this plot, the transportation, why she was sent back in time and the emotional turmoil something like this would cause on Claire would be the focal point of the book right? Well, it isn’t. Along comes Jamie, an extremely handsome, strapping, young (younger than her), fiery and red-headed Scottish solider who crosses paths with Claire when he is injured and requires the use of her healing skills. He saves her from a cruel Englishman suspecting her to be a spy (who is also a direct descendant of her husband back in the 20th century) and brings her back to a castle where the two of them are cared for under another Scottish family.

Both Jamie and Claire hit it off right away and what ends up happening is that they are forced to marry in order to protect both of their skins from the English. Now you would think that would be a pretty tense scene, right? I mean Claire is already married but in a different time and she has told no one of how she came to be in Scotland, but the scene only vaguely touches on her tiny bit of turmoil before skipping to the consummation of their marriage. The rest of the book, well, it was pretty much just one sex scene after another with a loosely based plot to keep the characters moving. So the continuous sex scenes on top of sappy romance really got to me. Don’t get me wrong, sex is awesome! I just wanted more details about the plot and for the writing to really get to the raw difficult choices and struggles that Claire had to make. She makes cheating on her husband seem like the easiest thing in the world by justifying that he technically hadn’t been born yet. I also don’t feel that she tried all that hard to attempt to get back home. She seemed pretty dandy in the 17th century and really didn’t question her position as much as I would imagine someone in her shoes to be. To make matters even sillier, Jamie was a virgin before he married Claire. Seriously? Where is the realism in that? A good looking Scottish man in the 17th century a virgin?! That’s ridiculous. What made Jamie even more unrealistic was how soft and in-tune he was with his own feelings as well as Claire’s emotions and feelings. I can’t see that a warrior of his status, regardless of his temper, got to where he was by being in-tune with his feelings and those of women, and especially by being a virgin.

There was a lot of sexual violence in this book. Surprisingly, the worst of it happened to Jamie in the end and Claire pretty much remained untouched, despite some of the situations she was in. As a reader, this content didn’t bother me so much, but I could see how it could be pretty disturbing to some readers. To add to the violence, Jamie also took at least three-major beatings by the end of the book. Yup, three.

All of these silly details really show to me that this book was written by an older married woman, for older married women who would rather be swept up in romance they can’t have instead of reading a captivating plot full of psychological turmoil and realism. I’m not saying that this is a bad thing. I read books to escape too, just not romantically (maybe erotically haha). Many writers make good money writing romances and the popularity of this book says enough in and of it’s self, it just didn’t work for me. It makes me a bit sad as I see so much potential for this book. The author has some good ideas, very likeable (even if unrealistic and shallow) characters and reasonably decent writing. It’s just too long, too vague on the emotion and details of the plot and too romantic. Sorry Diana, I won’t be reading any more of your work.